Friday, May 18, 2018

Biena Snacks

Biena is ... another snack food company trying to change what Americans grab for an afternoon snack, aiming for healthier, higher protein, non-GMO, gluten-free, vegan, etc, etc.
"Biena prides itself on creating a delicious protein-packed, high-fiber flavored line of chickpeas sourced right here in the USA! Did we mention they are also gluten-free, vegan, and non-GMO verified? We must be doing something right, because we've sold over 1 billion chickpeas to date (humble brag ūüėČ )."
Well, ok then.  Not that I'm one to just reach for a bag of chips, and I do love crunchy snacks, I was highly skeptical of these as I don't tend to like chickpeas.

The basic chickpea snacks come in 7 flavors, from simple sea salt, to spicy habanero, to "classic chip flavors" like sour cream and onion or bbq, to sweet honey roasted or cinnamon crunch.  And then they make chocolate coated ones, milk, dark, Girl Scouts Thin Mints branded ... which I was even more skeptical of.  Chocolate covered chickpeas?  Those just didn't sound good all.
The snacks come portion controlled into packages that were actually decently sized, more than enough for a snack.
Rockin' Ranch.
They ... were ok.

They were really crispy, crunchy, satisfying in that way, just like corn nuts.  Nice to munch on, would be great as a salad topper.

And the ranch seasoning (tomato, garlic, onion powders, salt, sugar, etc) was flavorful, each piece well coated.  It sorta helped mask the chickpea nature, but, at the end of the day, they were indeed still just chickpeas.  Flavorful, crunchy, but, chickpeas.

I liked trying something different, and it was nice to have a savory snack, but, I'm not going to go for chickpeas of my own accord.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Muriel's Donuts, Lebanon, NH

I'll just start with this: I know this review is going to make people sad.  It made *me* sad to write it.

Muriel's is an institution in the Lebanon area.  A donut shop, as ridiculously old school as it gets, helmed by a woman named Muriel, who has been in business since 1967.  She runs it alone, even though she is nearly 80 years old.  It is impressive, really.

I grew up having a Muriel's donut once a month, when my church had them after mass.  I remember being partial to the sugar donuts.  But it had been years since I had one.  And since then, I've had a lot of donuts.  I generally have at least one a week.  (Shh!)
The Muriel's Donuts Experience.
I went to Muriel's on a mission, despite the bad weather, despite it being closed even when supposed to be open, causing me to go back again.  I met Muriel, who is amazing.  I experienced the charm.  I got donuts.

But ... I didn't want another one.  I didn't want to finish one.  I'm sorry.


Muriel's is not located alongside any other business.  No, it is on a side street, next to houses.  It is located in a house, for that matter.  If you didn't know to be looking for it, you'd certainly never find it.

But find it people do.  When I was there, there was a steady stream of visitors, which honestly, puzzled me.  Where did all these people come from?  Its such a small town!
The only marking that tells you that you are at a business, rather than a home, is the sign painted above the window, and the posting of the hours.

Open every day but Sunday, 10am-1pm only.

The hours are ... well, a bit annoying, to be honest.  I wanted a donut for breakfast, but she didn't open until 10am, and I was up much earlier.  Or I've wanted a donut as an afternoon snack, but, alas, closed by then.  But worse, I arrived at 10:05am, and ... there was no one there.  I waited until 10:15am, determined to get a donut, hot and fresh, but, when there was no sign of anyone being there, I decided they must not be opening due to the weather (it was sleet and freezing rain, with a winter advisory in affect.  Like I said ... I really wanted my donut!), and finally gave up.  Other patrons also hesitated in their cars out front, and eventually drove away.

If these hours are not possible for you, you can also purchase her donuts at some gas stations around town, but, only later in the day, and clearly never as fresh.

I went back another time to find her open, but I recommend calling ahead, as the posted hours may not always mean she is open.
Donut Making Area.
But once inside, I was charmed.  It really is just a small front room where you enter and order through a window that looks into the back room, where the donuts are made.

It is there that Muriel is located, making donuts and taking orders.  She greeted me, and others who entered, immediately, pausing her work to take our orders, hand over our goodies, and then went right back to work.  As it was near the holidays, she even took the time to wish me happy holidays.

Off to the left, out of the photo is her board on one side with the dough laid out where she was working, which I didn't photo just to be respectful of her.  Next to that is the fryer ... with a big tub of lard under it.
Jelly Station.
The other side is the jellying station, and cooling racks.


Muriel's offers the classics.  But even fewer than you are probably imagining.
Plain Donuts.
One style only, cake donuts.  No raised donuts.

Donuts are available in rings or twisted crullers, all just plain, although you can get them rolled in sugar or cinnamon sugar.  That is it.  She also makes a jelly stick.

But no other toppings, no other fillings.  Just simple donuts.

Very fresh donuts, on cooling racks right in front of you.  Chances are high they'll still be warm, as she makes very small batches.

They cost $0.75 each, or are sold by the half or full dozen for a discount.
Donut Bag!
Even if you get a dozen, your donuts do not come in a pink box.  Nope, paper bags are the serving choice at Muriels.

I could feel how hot and fresh my donuts were even just holding the bag, the warmth coming through immediately.  And the grease.  This was taken within moments of receiving my donuts, by the time I drove 5 minutes to my grandmother's house to deliver her one, the bag was ... drenched.
Jelly Stick. $0.75.
This was a very fresh donut.  That I knew.

I loved the crunch to the exterior, caused by the cooling racks imprinting a pattern on the exterior.

But it just tasted fried.  I know donuts are fried, and I like fried things, but this was just too much fried taste for me.  Maybe I just don't like the taste of lard?  I don't know when I last had something actually fried in lard.  It kinda tasted like bad bacon.  But I know the lard helped make it so crispy.

The jelly filling was good, sweet and tasty, likely homemade.

I just didn't like it, nor the way it left my stomach feeling after.

I also had the simple sugared ring donut, which had the same awesome crispy exterior, but it too tasted too fried.  The generous sugar coating helped mask the fried taste a bit, but, I still just didn't care for the fried-ness.

Sadness, as I really wanted to love these donuts, and I know my family members all do, and found the entire experience quite charming, but ... I didn't even want to finish my donutdonut.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Wild Roots, Vermont

Before I get into my review of Wild Roots, I need to give some backstory.

In 2012, I discovered a new reason to visit my family in New Hampshire.  That reason was Home Hill Inn, quite literally, the first restaurant I dined at near my hometown that made me excited to return.  It was a small, adorable place, actually a bed and breakfast, with a restaurant open to the public.  My first meal there was mindblowing  - complete with foie gras, scallops, and skate wing that remains one of the best seafood preparations I've ever had.

My second visit, that following summer, was an epic tasting menu in the private room, again, with an amazing seafood prep (this time, halibut).  On that same trip home, I also checked out the Tavern, a more casual pub environment, which, sadly, was not very good.  And I took my entire family, grandmother included, to brunch on the weekend, where they totally redeemed themselves, with creative options like savory breakfast popovers.  The next year, I went again, and it wasn't quite as good, but I was still eager to return on my next visit.

And then Home Hill Inn closed.

I was very disappointed to say the least.  I dined all over town, tried to find somewhere else that I'd like, but, I wasn't ever all that successful (full list is here, if you want to read a lot of reviews!).

Flash forward several years.  The chef left the area, and moved out to Napa.  He learned a lot from the chefs there, working closely with local products, really learning to elevate produce in particular.  He refined his techniques.  And then moved to Denver for a while, again, continuing to focus on working with what is fresh and seasonal.  And then ... after 4 years, he returned back to New England, to found a new restaurant in Vermont, as the Executive Chef, with two other young owners.

That restaurant, is Wild Roots.  It opened only a month or so before my most recent visit to see my family, and, the moment I found out about it.  I immediately made a reservation for myself and my mother, who I knew would appreciate the meal.

And we did.
Lovely Meal.
The cuisine is hyper local, either done in house, or nearby.  This extends far beyond just the produce (which of course does come from nearby farms).  Dairy is from the farm nearby, beer is produced in-state, cheeses are local, bread is baked in house, and even the cured meat and fish is done in house.

Dishes are creative spins on familiar dishes, catering to diners who are adventurous for the rural area, but not totally outside their comfort zones.  The cuisine, and the setting, are comfortable yet refined.

I saw elements and inspiration from Home Hill Inn throughout the experience, but it clearly is the evolution of everything that the chef was doing there, and has learned since, combined with the vision of the other owners.

We had a wonderful meal, and I'll gladly return.

The Experience

Service was good, the staff friendly and knowledgeable, all casually dressed, but not sloppy.
Historic Building.
Wild Roots is located inside what I think is a historic building, located along route 14.  The building was renovated, but retained the old feel.

The curb appeal is legit, a large well tended to brick building, mowed lawns, flowers growing alongside.

A sign out front marks the spot, with directions to park across the street, in a medium size lot.
The entryway is even more inviting, with a host stand inside the front foyer.  Everything is wood, from the floors, to the stairs, to the walls, to the stand itself.

From the stand, you will be lead into several different adjacent rooms for seating, or, if you prefer, outside on the back porch.  I believe there were 3 inside rooms, plus the outside area.  The kitchen is also off this main hallway.

I'm not sure what is upstairs (do people live there?), but the basement also seemed used by restaurant staff.
Bar Area in 2nd Side Room.
The largest room, to the right of the host stand, also includes a bar, with counter seating for 4, plus the actual bar and espresso station.  The rest of the room is filled with small tables, I think mostly for two.

The room is bright any sunny, full of warm tones like the wide blond wood planked floor, light blue walls, white orb lights, and white accent work.  It featured a lovely landscape paining on the walls, a fireplace with light colored birch log, and fresh flowers on the mantel and along the windowsills.

I loved the decor, as it felt so warm, welcoming, and really like stepping into someone's home, albeit one with lots of dining tables.
Small Side Room.
My mom and I were seated in the room across the hall.  This room was smaller, with only 5 tables, but these tables mostly for groups of 5.  There was only one other party seated in this room with us, which lead to a really intimate setting, perfect for catching up on my first night in town.

The decor in this room was similar, but with slightly more darker, bolder tones.  Thinner planked wood floors, dark green wainscoting and picture rail, larger, darker light fixtures hanging from the ceiling.

We also had a non-functioning fireplace, mirrors, and artwork on the walls.
Back Patio.
Out back is a (yes, wooden) patio, overlooking the river, with metal tables and chairs, little lights, and red umbrellas to match the doorways.

Folks out here seemed mostly to be having drinks, but we were offered a place out here for our full meal, if we had wanted.
Table and Place Settings.
Our table was natural wood, complete with knots.

Tables were set with cloth napkins, water glasses, and each had a vase with fresh flowers (unique on each table).

Chairs were also wood, darker.  I thought they were fine, but my mom really wanted padding.
I don't normally include photos or bathroom reviews, but I found even the bathroom charming, again, it felt like I was in someone's house, with a old style mirror, and real hand towels.
The charm extended even to the bill, delivered on a wooden (yup, more wood!) clipboard, with a smile and message from our server.
I'm pretty sure I've NEVER included a review of the leftovers before, but, I couldn't get over the fact that each of our boxes came labelled with the restaurant name, date, and contents.

Of course, for completeness, I'll say that the contents weren't actually packaged up very well, e.g. the pesto dipping sauce was just in the box right along with the veggies, rather than separated out into a little container, etc.  And I did transfer everything to proper storage as soon as we got home, so the labels were entirely unnecessary, but, I thought it was a nice touch.


Water was house still or sparkling, both complimentary.  This is something I really appreciate at any restaurant, not just for the cost, but also, so much waste from plastic bottles!

No carafe was left on our table, and my water glass frequently ran out.  I rationed as best I could, but still went empty, and needed to ask for refills more than once.
Wine List.
The wine list is limited.

3 whites available by the glass (one on tap), and 3 by the bottle (two of which are the same as glass offerings).  One rose.  4 reds by the glass (again, one on tap), and 5 by the bottle.

There were strangely no years given on any of the listings.

I was pretty surprised by the list given that one of the owners is a Level II Sommelier, and is passionate about wine.  Perhaps this is just the offerings as they get started, and will expand when they are able?  Or maybe it is highly curated?
Beer, Cocktails, Mocktails.
The beer and cider list was similarly small (4 beer, all local) and two ciders.

The bar program was no slouch though, 6 house cocktails, all with fun names, and interesting ingredients (e.g. Beet Shrub in the "Beeting Heart", local honey in the "Mint to Bee", and more).

Most impressive though was the "Hold the Booze" section.  I'm always appreciative of having non-alcoholic offerings that aren't just Pepsi products.  Here they had "Sodas made with magic", housemade mocktails, iced tea, and some high end bottled sodas (maple soda, Maine root beer).
Montsable Chardonnay, Languedoc, France. $8.
The cocktails sounded fun, but, I wanted only one drink for the night, and opted to go for wine as I thought it would be better to sip alongside my meal.

I asked my server for more information about the white wines, wanting something not too dry, but also not too sweet (my mom wanted sweet though).

Our server wasn't really sure how to answer us, and sent over the Sommelier, who gave us a description, and then just offered to bring us tastes of each, one in each glass, which we shared.  once we picked our selections, she came to just fill those glasses, rather than bringing fresh ones, which I saw as sensible, but I'm sure others might not.

My mom went for the sweet option, from Argentina, and enjoyed it.  I opted for the Chardonnay.

Neither were very good, and I wouldn't want either again.

The Food

The reason we were there, of course, was the for food.  I couldn't wait to experience Chef Peter's food again!

The menu is seasonal, local, and constantly evolving, as you'd expect from a farm to table place.

The savory food menu is broken into 4 sections: Cheese + Meat (basically, a build-your-own charcuterie platter section), To Share (appetizers portioned such that they should be shared), Supper (regular dinner entrees), and Daily Requirements (extra sides of vegetables).

My mom and I agreed to just share everything, and knew we wanted dessert too, so we got just one appetizer (which we were warned was really quite big for only two diners), one main, and one side.  Portions were all quite generous, we were both more than full, and we went home with plenty of leftovers.

Our server asked if we'd like it coursed out as the To Share dish first, and the Daily Requirements with the Supper, which is what we did.  Pacing was good.
For a starter, I was drawn in by a few items.  The smoked tomato salmorejo sounded unique, and I was interested to see how it compares to gazpacho.  The cheese and meat lineup was also quite temping, high quality locally produced cheeses, and, house cured meats?  Yes!  In particular, I was eyeing the duck liver pate, particularly once the table next to us got it.   My mom of course put in a vote for the roasted beets (her favorites, but, sorry, just not my thing), or the tuna poke (since she had her first poke with me {at Pine, on my last visit}).  But we opted for the signature dish (or, at least it seems signature to me!), the Farm Share.

Picking a side dish was a no brainer.  We had no need for the tender green salad or baby zucchini + roasted turnip salad, given our giant platter of veggies as a starter.  The heirloom tomatoes, from the local farm down the street, were appealing, except, we literally had plans to go pick strawberries in the morning from that very farm, and to stop at their farm stand after to buy heirloom tomatoes.  We'd be having those at home the next day.  Which left one item: fried garlic scapes.  Which sounded awesome anyway, even if they weren't the only real option for us.

Selecting a Supper was nearly as easy as picking the side, even though there were substantially more options, 7 total, one for each major category: two vegetarian items (one pasta, one bean based), two seafood (one shellfish, one fish), one beef, one chicken, one pork.  The protein options were all fairly classic, nothing too out there, although the creativity of the kitchen shined in the accompaniments and prep.  The beef sirloin doesn't just come with a side of mashed potatoes and uninspired daily veg, but, rather, kale + garlic scape salad, and horseradish aioli.  The fish is tuna steak, served grilled, with charred scallions and smoked chilis.  Oh, and the token veggie pasta dish?  That would be house made stinging nettle dumplings, with brown butter, sage blossoms, and ricotta.  Oh yes.  I nearly ordered that.  But how could I order pasta, no matter how interesting it sounded, when there are scallops on the menu?   Luckily for me, when I proposed this choice to my mom, she immediately said, "oh good, if you said anything else, I was going to say we were sharing".
House Sourdough & Butter.
Soon after we ordered, a bread presentation arrived.  I was going to say "bread basket", but it wasn't a basket.  A ... box?  A wooden tray, with cloth napkin, and warm, house made bread.

And ... it was sourdough.  Doh.  I just don't like sourdough, so I didn't try it.

My mother however loved it.  She wanted to devour the entire bread box on the spot, and I warned her she should save space for the great food that lay ahead.  She still opted for a second slice, and, loved it.  She said it had a great chew, great crust, amazing flavor.  All I could smell was sourdough, and even the smell I dislike.  I'm glad she enjoyed it though, and I give Wild Roots points for serving house made bread, and serving it warm.

The butter I did try, and it was fantastic.  Local whipped butter, perfectly soft and spreadable, and it melted nicely into the warm bread.  It was sprinkled with generous amounts of sea salt, which amped up the flavor.  Seriously quality butter, and, when my mom asked to have the final slice of bread boxed up, she also asked for the rest of the butter.  I don't blame her.
To Share: Farm Share. $14.
"Abundant vegetables, herb dip, bagna cauda."

We went for the Farm Share, mostly because I'd seen photos of it, and, because I was excited to celebrate local vegetables.  Yup, I ordered a giant plate of vegetables, not quite the decadence I normally opt for!

I think my mom was a bit skeptical about this order, as the menu didn't say much.  Our server did describe it, and some of the veggies that would be on it, and let us know that the herb dip of the day was basil salsa verde, and educated us about bagna cauda (I didn't bother cut her off, I'm familiar with it), but still, if you hadn't seen a photo, this might not make sense.

Our server also warned us that it was quite large, particularly for only two people.  "But, don't worry, we have togo boxes!", she chirped.  She also warned the party of 4 next to us that it was large, and it was then that I got concerned that maybe we were crazy for still ordering it as only two people.

When it arrived, we barely knew what to do.  We just had to take it in.  What on earth was in front of us, besides an overwhelmingly large platter of seemingly grilled veggies?  The server who brought it out just said, "here is your farm share", without describing anything, or, giving us a chance to ask.  I wanted to know what was on it!

And so we began our adventure in discovering this dish.  What exactly did we have?

Strawberries.  Zucchini.  Carrots.  Broccoli.  Cucumbers.  Those were all easily identifiable, and grouped together in little piles.

A little harder to spot was the basil, just because sprigs of grilled basil was a bit unexpected.  Pea pods were easy to pick out, once we found them.  Unlike other items that were grouped into sections, the whole pea pods seemed to be scattered about, underneath other things.

I finally saw the purple bell pepper our server had mentioned, there was only one chunk, but it was large.

Garlic scapes.  A green succulent, that I later confirmed was purslane.  All sorts of edible flowers, including editable chive flowers.

So many colors, sizes, and more.  Everything was grilled, except some of the flower petal garnish.  Everything was beautifully seasoned with large chunks of salt.  I loved the salt level.

I'll admit that I wasn't actually excited by most of the vegetables on this platter.  I don't really care for zucchini, carrots, broccoli, cucumbers, or bell peppers.  Doh.  They were all fine, nicely cooked, with beautiful char marks and grilled flavor, but, just not veggies I was hoping for.  I appreciated that the mini zucchini still had zucchini flowers attached.  I like strawberries, but they did seem a bit out of place on the platter, pickled green strawberries would make more sense perhaps?  They did add a nice pop of color though.

The garlic scapes were a good flavor, but a bit chewy, as expected, much like when my mom had them in her salad at Worthy Kitchen (review coming soon!).

What I ended up enjoying was the more random stuff, like the basil.  Just, simple, grilled basil.  Who knew it could be so tasty?  I really liked the grilled chive flowers.  They were super charred, and I just thought they were awesome and unique.

But the best element for me?  The purslane.  I couldn't get enough of it.  Juicy and crispy, and something I'd love to throw into more salads.  I wasn't quite sure what it was, and asked someone who came to check on us, and he said it was a succulent, but he didn't know what.  I said I thought it might be purslane, but he really didn't know.  I later confirmed that it was.

"You have to dig around a bit", said my mom, as she found a pea pod, "it's just like being in the garden!"  I think really summed this the dish up well.  It really connected you to the garden, to the farm, and to looking a bit deeper to find the goodies you wanted.

The veggies honestly didn't need the dips, as they were so well seasoned, but, I'm a sauces and dips girl, so of course I tried them, particularly as my mom couldn't stop talking about how much she loved the salsa verde.  I'll admit, it was quite flavorful, and I loved the garlic in it.  She didn't care for the bagna cauda, "that doesn't excite me at all", she said, going right back for the salsa verde.

Overall, this was a unique dish, and I'm glad we tried it.  It felt good to eat veggies, and not just a salad, and I'd love to see how this evolves as the seasons change.  We made what barely seemed like a dent in it, and thus went home with a big pile of grilled veggies, which my mom threw onto a bed of mixed greens for lunch the next day, mixing the leftover basil salsa verde with a bit of olive oil to make a vinaigrette that matched perfectly with it.  This meal just kept on giving!
Daily Requirements: Fried Garlic Scapes. $7.
"Lemon mayo, arugula." 

From lovely grilled veggies to fried ones, served with mayo sauce.  Now this was starting to look more like a Julie meal.

This was an incredibly fun dish.

First, lets just talk about the execution of the frying.  They were perfectly crispy.  But moreover, this was some of the best fried batter I've ever had.  It was expertly seasoned, incredibly flavorful, with a bit of kick.  It stuck to the scapes well.  I don't even like chicken, but this made me want fried chicken.  (Side note: honestly, this chef could open a fried chicken place and be crazy successful).  Seriously, amazing fried job.  I hope he keeps a seasonal fried side on the menu always.

I can safely say this is the first time I've ever had fried garlic scapes.  And, it totally worked.  The thin pieces reminded me of onion straws.  The bigger curled chunks were juicer, and more like an onion ring.  I liked them both, equally, and for different reasons.

But, I forgot to mention one thing.  This was more than just fried garlic scapes.  It was ... fried *pickled* garlic scapes.  Another dimension thrown in, transforming this not just into a play on fried onions, but also a play of fried pickles, which seem way more common around New Hampshire and Vermont than I'm accustomed (seriously, on menus everywhere, like Millstone at 74 Main, where I had them for perhaps the first time).

Now, for a bit of critique.  When I get a fried appetizer, it usually has a dipping sauce.  And this did come with lemon mayo, except that it was a thin layer in the bottom of the dish, not a sauce on the side.  I realize that this was a side dish and not an app, and that the fried scapes were actually so delicious that I didn't *need* to drench them in aioli, but, I found it a bit hard to get to the mayo and slide my scapes through it when I wanted to.  The mayo itself was fine, very lemon forward and herbaceous, more interesting than just plain mayo.  I think a garlic scape aioli would be more fun ...

And finally, the menu said the dish had arugula in it.  Ours had no visible arugula leaves, so I'm not sure where that was.  It did however have some lightly charred flowers.  Which I loved.  I wonder if those were arugula flowers?  They very well might have been.  Again, since our dish was presented without description, I wasn't able to find out.

Overall, this was quite fun, and quite successful.  A play on fried onion strings, onion rings, and pickles, all at once, made with seriously the best fried chicken batter I've ever had.  Hard to stop eating, but actually, my second favorite dish, because our entree, which arrived alongside, was even better ...
Supper: Cape Cod Sea Scallops. $29.
"Kohlrabi salad, smoked bluefish, mustard seeds."

 It had been far too long since I had a New England sea scallop (these were indeed from Cape Cod).

The serving was 5 seared scallops, plated over the kohlrabi salad (which turned out to have lots of cucumber in it), with more purslane (yes!), a light cream sauce with the promised mustard seed in it, and, two large chunks of house smoked bluefish hiding under the greens (not visible at all in this photo).

The scallops were very good.  Large size, clearly fresh, very flavorful.  I loved that they had a bit of a meaty character to them, if that makes sense, mixed with a subtle sweetness.  The sear, on only the top side, was a good hard sear.  They were properly seasoned.  Cooked through, but not rubbery.  Overall, obviously a good quality product, well prepared, although, I do prefer my scallops mid-rare.

The kohlrabi salad I didn't care for though.  I like kohlrabi, and was looking forward to the refreshing crunch, but, the cubes of kohlrabi just didn't do it for me.  They were soft rather than crunchy as I was hoping, and the salad was equal parts sliced cucumber, of which I'm not a huge fan.  Maybe I was just sick of veggies at this point?

But ... I again adored the purslane, so maybe not.  It was so fresh, so flavorful, so crispy.  With the very light sauce, which had a bit of kick to it, this was a fantastic mini salad on its own.  A bite of scallop, with some purslane dragged through the sauce, made me quite happy.

But this dish kept on giving.  Smokiness was brought in through the chunks of house smoked bluefish.  Lovely smoky flavor, mild fish.  Add a bit of that to the aforementioned bite, and then it was even more perfect.  I loved the smoky element.

Overall, a wonderful dish, even if I didn't personally want the cucumber and kohlrabi salad.
Dessert, Cheese, After Dinner Drinks Menu.
I was already quite satisfied with my meal, but, I don't ever skip dessert.  Ok, not quite true, but it is extremely rare.  While I appreciate my local seasonal veggies, and the quality seafood, I'm a sweet tooth at heart.

I asked to see the dessert menu in advance, when we ordered our mains, so I knew how much "space" to save, as if that is even really a question with me.

The dessert menu included coffee drinks (including pour over), tea, and some cheese selections, plus 5 sweet options.

Sweet options were house made ice cream in a few flavors (not really something I ever order at a restaurant, ice cream has its place, obviously, I eat it near daily, but restaurant dessert is not it for me), 3 types of cake, and a seasonal fruit crisp.

If you've read my blog much, you probably know which I went for.  I'm just not really a cake girl.  I don't eat chocolate (caffeine) at night, so the chocolate molten cake was out, although the table next to us loved theirs.  My mom likes olive oil cakes, but for me, that is about as boring as a dessert can be, and didn't ever register on my radar.  The final cake was a grilled pound cake, served with grilled strawberries and lemon cream.  This also didn't cross my radar, meh to pound cake in general, except the table next to us did get it, and I'll admit, it sounded fantastic.  Grilling pound cake, and serving it with sides like that, might just elevate it enough for me!

But, we went for the fruit crisp, strawberry rhubarb, even though my mom correctly noted, "uh, you don't really like rhubarb?"  She is right, but I tolerate it, particularly when mixed with strawberry, and, well, I love fruit crisp and ice cream!
Something Sweet: Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp. $8.
"Molten wheat crumble + brown butter ice cream." 

Our crisp was delivered piping hot, in a crock.  Yes.  Points for this.  Seriously, why bother serve a cold crisp?

The ice cream clearly was just added before serving, as it wasn't melted at all, a perfect little scoop.  It did quickly melt in, and, we wished we had a second scoop.   I didn't taste brown butter necessarily, but it was a smooth, creamy ice cream, not too sweet, and complimented the sweet crisp filling well.

The crisp filling was ... mostly rhubarb.  My mom commented on it immediately.  We had trouble finding much strawberry.  Mostly little chunks of rhubarb, clearly stewed in sweet syrup though, as it was very sweet overall, not much tartness.  It really needed the aforementioned ice cream to cut the sweetness.  A bite of the fruit filling on its own was pretty intense.

And finally, uh, my favorite part of a crisp: the topping!  It was described as "molten wheat crumble", which, I'll be honest, I don't know what that means.  Did it just mean ... molten, as in, hot?  If so, why was that modifier on the "wheat crumble" and not the "crisp", like the molten cake?  Or did it, more likely, refer to the type of wheat, and was a misspelling of "moulton wheat"?  I dunno.  Whatever it was, it was more whole wheaty, and just totally delicious, large chunks on top.

The only problem?  There wasn't much of it at all.  The surface area of the crisp wasn't huge, and, as you can see, the topping didn't extend to the edges.  My mom's comment, as she had a bite of the crisp topping, "Wow, that's really good crumble ... when you get it."  Both my mom and I loved the crumble, but only had about 2 bites each.

My mom appreciated the size of the dessert.  We shared it easily, and it left us both satisfied, but not too full.  She acknowledged that sharing probably wasn't necessary.  It is nice to have dessert portions that aren't monsters, since, often, no one else wants desserts but me, and restaurant desserts are usually too big for just one person.

Overall, this was a fine dessert.  We left satisfied, but, it wasn't a dessert I'll rave about.  A bit too sweet, not enough crumble, and a fruit I don't love.   Lots of promise here though.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Poke from New Sushi Inc, Boston

New Sushi is fairly new to Boston, opened in 2016.  While the restaurant name is "new sushi", they don't actually serve any sushi, or at least, any nigiri or standard rolls.  Instead, they offer, well, "new" style sushi, that is ... sushi burritos.  And poke bowls.  So on trend.

And, as much as I hate being into trends, well, they are ones I get behind (e.g. I love Sushiritto in SF for the sushi burritos, and during my recent travels to Seattle and southern California, I've gotten a bit addicted to poke bowls ... like Cubed Poke and Pok√©works in Irvine, CA, Pok√©works in Mountain View, CA, MIX Poke Bar in Bellevue, WA, and, more locally, Big Fish Little Fish in San Francisco). 

So when I was in Boston staying just one night in a hotel near the airport ... poke delivery called out.

New Sushi offers 3 options for your creation: a burrito (sushi rice and seaweed wrap), a poke bowl (sushi rice or white sticky rice base), or a salad bowl (romaine base).  All come with choice of 2 or 3 proteins, 1 sauce, up to 6 regular toppings, and 2 crunch toppings.  Most places allow you to pay extra for more toppings, but, New Sushi does not.  Want al 4 crunch toppings?  So, no luck.
Delivery Create Your Own.
I didn't visit in person, rather, opted for delivery (via DoorDash) to my hotel room on a very, very cold night, but I know the concept is Chipotle style, with everything laid out and assembled to order.

My order came quickly, no drama, and the bowl was clearly handled with care, not mixed around, and nicely assembled.

For proteins, you can select 1-2 for a regular bowl, and 1-3 for a large, from a set of 6 options, 3 standard raw poke style seafoods (tuna, albacore tuna, salmon), 1 cooked seafood (tempura shrimp), 1 vegetarian (tofu skin), and 1 ... chicken.

For sauce, you pick only one (boo!), again out of 6 options, including creamy mayo bases (spicy mayo, classic mayo, wasabi mayo) and lighter options (spicy ponzu, ginger sauce, and "yazu" sauce ... whatever that is).

Next, up to 6 toppings, out of a list of 12, mostly basic veggies (romaine, cucumber, red onion, cabbage, jalapeno, carrot), crunchy things (tobika, sesame seeds), plus the standard higher end add-ins (avocado, seaweed salad, and crab salad), and a more unique choice of Japanese pickle.

And finally, two crunch toppings out of four: onion, scallion, or garlic crisps, and shredded nori.
Regular Create Your Own:  $10.50.
My order was:
  • Base: Salad Bowl.
  • Protein: Shrimp Tempura, Tofu Skin.
  • Sauce: Spicy Ponzu. (on the side).
  • Toppings: Cabbage, Crab Salad (x2), Japanese Pickle, Seaweed Salad, Sesame Seeds.
  • Crunch: Scallion Crispy, Shredded Nori
Yes, not really a "poke bowl", as I didn't have rice, nor raw fish.  Let's just call it a Japanese-ish salad?  I feel silly, since I don't actually like poke (meh, rice, and I just haven't been into raw fish lately), but, well, I adore bowls like this.

The base was actually fairly boring, chunks of romaine.  I prefer more interesting mixed greens or kale, but they only offered romaine.  I was impressed by the quality.  Clearly very fresh, very crisp, juicy, not wilted, not browned, etc.  Very good ... but it was romaine.

The crunchy toppings were good, a pile of chopped shredded nori in the center, some crunchy crispy bits of scallion on one side.  I would have liked even more of these, or some of any of the other crunchy toppings, just cuz I adore crunch, but, the amount was reasonable, and both were good.

The sesame seed topping was sprinkled all over the top which added a bit more crunch too.

The other toppings were all arranged in piled around the exterior of the bowl.

The cabbage (purple) was fresh and crisp, a nice compliment to the romaine, good portion, just enough not dominant.  It made me wonder about a "poke" bowl with a cabbage/slaw base rather than greens?

The seaweed salad was also a good portion, a nice mound, but I didn't really like it as much as most.  It didn't seem to have much marinade nor flavor to it. It was fine, but, boring.
My Bowl: Under the Toppings.
The "Japanese Pickles" turned out to be takuan, slices of pickled daikon.  Crisp, but, I didn't care for the flavor (and I do like takuan).  There was more of this than any other topping, and it kinda dominated (which, would be great, ifI liked it).

My final topping was the crab salad (fake crab) which I asked for double of since I adore it (enough to have a label on my blog devoted to it!), but, since it was a delivery order, I did that via the comments section in the ordering tool, and I'm pretty sure this was just a single serving.

I loved it.  Loved it, loved it, loved it.  Shredded "krab", creamy mayo base.  I seriously would have been happy with just a big bowl of this and some crunchy toppings.

For my actual protein choices, I went for the shrimp tempura and tofu skin, since I haven't been into raw fish lately, and I dislike chicken.

The shrimp tempura was an amazing surprise.  I think it was just one piece of shrimp, chopped up into a few pieces, but it was excellent.  Flavorful, great batter, somehow still crisp, and the shrimp itself wasn't fishy at all.  Really shockingly good.

The tofu skin was eh.  Marinated, chopped up, but, not particularly flavorful nor interesting.  I wish I could have just had two shrimp tempura!

And finally, sauce, which I asked for on the side.  I went for the spicy ponzu (because I had a spicy mayo sauce in the fridge already), and it wasn't particularly good.  Certainly not spicy.  Mostly just tasted like soy sauce.  I was glad I had my other sauce to dunk the shrimp tempura in, and the crab salad had so much creaminess already that I didn't need more for that.

So, overall, there were some highlights (the crab salad! The shrimp tempura!), but, overall, I don't feel compelled to order from New Sushi again, unless I really could double up on the shrimp tempura and crab salad, and add on more crunchy toppings.

Regular size was plenty, and decent for the $10.50 price.
"Chips". $2.
The list of sides available is meager: edamame, seaweed salad, and chips.

Most poke places offer chips ... they are usually taro chips, usually made in house.  So I eagerly added "chips" onto my order, slightly concerned because the menu didn't specify what kind of chips, but also didn't offer any options.  If the chips were just regular potato chips, surely, they'd have options, right?

Apparently ... wrong.

Really, I paid $2 for a tiny bag of plain Lay's potato chips?  Boo to this.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Bi-Rite Creamery Breakfast Catering

Bi-Rite Creamery.  A SF institution.  The lines for the ice cream on a rare warm SF day are well known (which, I've never really understood.  Its fine ice cream, but, honestly, I've never been that impressed). 
"We may be known for our ice cream, but we started as bakers! Today our team bakes sweets like the ones we grew up with.  Our changing menu reflects the fruits offered by each season as well as holiday classics like pumpkin pie, Christmas stollen and hot cross buns."
But did you know that Bi-Rite started as a bakery?  And is actually known for their baked goods?  I didn't either, but, I was eager to learn more.

The bakery wing of the creamery makes a slew of items, ranging from cupcakes, bars, cookies, and puddings, to beautiful cakes, to breakfast pastries.  They are available at the Bi-Rite Markets, or, through their catering service, which is how I had them.
Granola. $45.
"Maple and brown sugar granola with almonds, sunflower and flax seeds, unsweetened coconut, and raisins." 

This was interesting granola.  From inspection alone, I did not think that I'd care for it.  It really looked quite plain, was loaded with way too many raisins, and had no chunks. Not my style at all.

My feelings on the raisins didn't change much (yup, raisins, but at least they were soft and not hard pellets, and yup, way too many).  And I did wish for chunks of granola (it did have chunks, they, uh, just were all of raisins).

But it was good.  The almonds surprised me, they were a small size, and well roasted and sweetened. Really crunchy and somehow more flavorful than your average almond.  I also liked the crispy coconut flakes, which the description said were unsweetened, but really did taste sweet to me.  Which is probably why I thought the granola was decent, as it was beautifully sweet from maple syrup, brown sugar, AND honey.  And it very crisp, toasted with butter.

The flax and sunflower seeds gave a bit of bitterness, but not too much, and I didn't mind them at all, another surprise.

So for the style of granola it was, I liked it.  Better as finger food or with milk than yogurt.

This came served with our choice of Straus whole milk yogurt or Clover 2% milk.  It was a huge bowl of granola, but $45 still seems a little pricey for a few tubs of yogurt and granola.
Fruit Salad. $60.
"Freshly-picked, peak of the season fruit salad."

The fruit salad too was actually really quite good.  The pineapple and cantaloupe I didn't care about, the blueberries were good but nothing special, and the kiwi and mango were both fabulous, really juicy, really ripe, nicely sweet.  I almost wonder if they had some agave drizzled over it all?  They were too good to be "just fruit"!

Again, a big bowl, but, $60?  Maybe it was reasonable for this premium fruit.
Mini Pastry Basket. $45.
"An assortment of 32 of our favorite mini pastries to start your day."

The part I was obviously most excited for was the baked goods.  Bi-Rite has many different options for catering pastry baskets - just croissants/danishes, just scones, or mixes, full size or mini.  This was the most inclusive option - mini mixed.  So I could try ... everything.

The selection changes depending on what they want to send you, so we didn't get any muffins, nor quickbreads, which was fine with me.  What we did have was plain croissants, pain au chocolate, almond croissants, cinnamon rolls, and struesel coffee cake.

Yes, I tried them all (except the plain croissant).  They were mini, after all ...
Almond Croissant.
I started with what looked the most decadent, an icing drizzled almond croissant.

It was ... eh.  Fine.

The pastry was a bit spongy, not very flaky.  The sweet glaze on top was nice.
Almond Croissant: Inside.
And it wasn't very well filled.  The gritty almond filling wasn't particularly great either.

My least favorite, not recommended.
Coffee Cake.
"Warm cinnamon and brown sugar coffee cake baked from scratch."

Better was the coffee cake.

The cake was just sour cream pound cake, dense, moist, not dry, very buttery and rich, but, still just fairly plain cake.

The streusel though was good, brown sugar, cinnamon, and regular sugar, and I appreciated the layer both on top, and the layer in the middle.  Nicely sweet.  Lots of sugar.

My third pick, because of the topping, but still not an item I really wanted more of.

They also sell the coffee cake whole for $40.
Pain au Chocolat.
Things improved with the pain au chocolate.

The pastry was a bit better, more flaky, more crisp, but still not that great.

What was great was the filling, three large bars of totally not melted quality dark chocolate.  I really liked the chocolate.

My second favorite, because I liked the chocolate, but, a stellar pastry it was not.
Cinnamon Roll.
And finally, I saved the best for last.  The cinnamon roll.

This was actually quite good.

I really liked the sweet dough used, good flavor, good texture, just a bit crisp.  The filling was cinnamon and sugar, again, lots of sugar, which created caramelized edges that seeped out.  And of course, icing on top for more sweet.

This was certainly my favorite and one I'd gladly have again.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Fran's Chocolates

Fran's Chocolates is a Seattle area chocolate maker, with several boutiques around there, plus retail distribution nationwide. Their specialties are salted caramels, dessert sauces, drinking chocolate, and "Gold Bars", although they also make truffles, bars, dripped fruits and nuts, and more.  They are certified Fairtrade and Organic.  Yadda yadda.

I've only tried the caramels, when I received a small gift box.
Gray Salt & Smoked Salt Caramels.
"Our best-selling and award-winning Gray and Smoked Salt Caramels feature a harmonious blend of complex flavors - rich dark and milk chocolate, soft buttery caramel and the unexpected boldness of the gray and smoked sea salts."

My box was a duo, two each of the dark chocolate with gray salt, one milk with smoked salt.

Since I prefer dark chocolate, that is the one I went for.

Gray Salt Caramel
"Slow-cooked, soft butter caramel is dipped in dark chocolate and finished with a sprinkling of gray sea salt harvested off the coast of Brittany."

It was ... fine.

The dark chocolate was decent quality, smooth, dark chocolate.  I did really like the pops of flavor from the salt.  Dark chocolate and salt are wonderful together.

The caramel, also fine.  Slightly chewy, decent flavor, the kind of caramel that is sorta stringy as you pull away from it.

It all went together fine.  It was like a nicer version of a Riesen.  Which just isn't my thing, but, the quality was obvious.

I left my box of chocolate unattended, and, uh, the others disapeared.  So I never got to try the smoked salt milk caramel, which was supposed to be the same soft caramel, this time dipped in milk chocolate, and finished with  "sea salt that has been lightly smoked over Welsh oak".  I think I'd love the smoked salt, but, milk chocolate is rarely my thing.


Thursday, May 10, 2018

Mr. Holmes Bakehouse

Update Review, May 2018

"Hey Julie, we have pastries from Mr. Holmes, want any?"  You know I went running.  Fast.

Mr. Holmes Bakeshop is known for creative pastries, which I've reviewed before (below), but this one was certainly the most unique so far.
Twice Backed Coffee Stout Croissant. 
"Brown sugar cake, stout beer cream, chocolate glaze, coffee crumb, dark chocolate brownie."

When I got this, I got it from an event where someone brought in Mr. Holmes goods, so I didn't know what it was.  I saw that it had chocolate glaze and some kind of crumble, and brownie chunks, and that was enough to draw me in.

It also was clearly split in half, so I expected some kind of filling (which, it had).

The toppings were a bit odd, to be honest.

Brownie chunks on top of a croissant?  I mean, they were fine brownie chunks, but, I didn't really want or need brownies with my croissant.  The dark chocolate glaze was good, thick like a ganache.  I didn't realize the crumb was coffee, I thought it was just chocolate or brownie, but I can see it in retrospect kinda, it did have a bitterness.

So, the toppings were ... interesting.  They certainly added flavors and textures, and looked crazy.

But what was inside confused me more.
Twice Baked Coffee Stout Croissant: Inside.
The croissant itself was fine.  Flaky.  Not too oily but clearly decadent.

But the filling confused me greatly.

It was a cream.  Or a paste.  It had a consistency of mushy banana.  But didn't really taste like banana.  But if you can imagine mushy banana, that is what it was like, not light like cream, not smooth like a custard, not exactly a pudding.  But it seemed to be cream based.

And it had a flavor to it.  I guessed rum.  Something boozy.  I couldn't pinpoint it, but it wasn't a simple flavor.  I still kept thinking "banana" due to the consistency, but it didn't seem quite right.  Banana rum cream filled croissant topped with chocolate sauce, brownies, and cake bits?  I was so confused, and clearly had to look it up.

It turned out to be "brown sugar cake and stout beer cream".  Uh, of course?  Clearly.  But I don't like beer.

Oh, but the thing is?  I LOVED the filling.  Yeah, the texture was strange, thick like a pudding, and the flavor I couldn't identify, but it was complex, and it was sweet from the brown sugar.  And there was tons of it.

I wanted a bowl of that filling, just like a pudding.  Who needed the croissant, and certainly, who needed those brownie bits?

Overall, fascinating, but, wow, that filling.  Wonderful, and it made the whole adventure with this pastry worthy it.

Update Review, February 2016

"Oh, Julie, what are you doing from 10:30-11:30?", was a greeting I received from a co-worker one morning.  I replied that I was headed to a meeting until 11.  She told me I should swing by an event she was hosting when I got out of my meeting, and then she added it to my calendar.  She promised tasty things.  I knew nothing more.

I had no idea what I was in for when I stepped into the room a little after 11, but was beyond thrilled when I saw the display from Mr. Holmes Bakehouse.  I had their goods once before at an event and I was pretty impressed, so I was eager to try more goods.  For more background on the insanity that is Mr. Holmes, go start with my previous review, and then return here.
Assorted Items, February 2017.
I didn't know what the items were exactly when I was at the event, but, I looked them up afterwards.  I was immediately sad that I didn't have the insider knowledge when I was selecting my treats, as I certainly would have grabbed different items.

Only a few of these were as simple as they looked.  The plain croissant, and the chocolate croissant, were exactly what they looked like.  But the other croissants were far more exciting, including a
churro croissant (I thought it was just cinnamon sugar coated, but, it was filled with dulce de leche cream!), ferrero rocher croissant (filled with hazelnut and dunked in chocolate coating), matcha croissant (matcha white chocolate coating), and seasonal fruit danish (with brown butter streusel and pastry cream).  The donut was rolled in cinnamon sugar and stuffed with white mocha raspberry cream.  And the cookie even was far more exciting than it looked, brown butter caramel with cornflakes! 

I first grabbed a giant bear claw (not pictured because I had already snagged it from the platter), but came back for more later in the morning.

Since someone had already cut into the ferrero rocher croissant, I too cut off a chunk and tried it.  It really was a quality croissant, perfectly layered, flaky, crispy on top, buttery, shiny.  When I saw the green dipped one remaining later, I hoped it was matcha, and grabbed that for myself.

The matcha croissant was also good, again, a great specimen of a croissant.  The inside folds were moist and buttery, the outside flaky and messy in all the right ways.  The white chocolate matcha coating was very well balanced, strongly matcha flavored but not bitter, and not overwhelming sweet from white chocolate either.  Very good, although a bit simple.
Cookie Dough Bear Claw / Cookie Dough Mousse. $4.50.
Like I said, I didn't know what anything was when I was at the event, and I just picked this one for myself as it was the biggest and most decadent looking.  You know how I roll.

It turned out to be a bear claw, stuffed with cookie dough mousse, topped with cookie dough crust, and drizzled in white chocolate.  It was massive, a real bear paw.  And I ate it.  All of it.

It was good.  It was very good.

Like the croissants, the pastry was fantastic.  Incredible layers, buttery, flaky, slightly crispy, just, perfect.  I liked breaking the fingers off one-by-one, and eating them as delicious croissant-bites.

The cookie dough coating on top was kinda fun, full of crunchy little cocoa nibs.  It reminded me of a pineapple bun from a Chinese bakery, you know, the kind that look like pineapples because they have the crunchy sweet sugar cookie topping?  It was good, but unnecessary on top of a bear claw that was also drizzled with white chocolate (yay, more sweet topping), AND stuffed with cookie dough mousse.
Cookie Dough Bear Claw: Inside.
Let's talk about that mousse.

I cut the claw in half to reveal the contents, and found it very generously stuffed with the pastry cream.  The cream was absolutely loaded up with mini chocolate chips, making it very chocolatey.  It was sweet, it was creamy, and had a nice texture from all the chips.  I didn't love the filling, but it was good.  There was so much of it that it was actually too much with just the main part of the claw, but I found that I could break a finger off and dunk it in the extra filling for a "perfect bite".  I also clearly enjoyed dissecting this thing as I devoured it.

Overall, this was very good.  I was a bit shocked to find that I ate the whole thing in one sitting, as it really was quite large.  But, such quality pastry, seriously, look at the layering here on the interior!
It was also a fairly fascinating item, so it held my interest.

Original Review, June 2016

A couple years ago, Mr. Holmes Bakehouse hit San Francisco by storm.  If you follow the bakery media at all, you certainly know about Mr. Holmes, for any one of several reasons.

Mr Holmes became a phenomenon instantly as they introduced the cruffin.  Yup, a croissant muffin hybrid, with a flavor that changes daily.  Limited to 2 per person.  They sell out ridiculous quickly.  The website has a countdown timer until the next morning when they'll be available.

They also became everyone's favorite Instagram place for something besides the food: their slogan, which is "I got baked in San Francisco".  It is printed all all their packaging, but, also, in huge neon letters in the store.

And then, finally, the scandal.  The bakery was broken into.  And the thief stole only one thing: recipes.  No cash.  Just the cruffin recipe.

You can't make this stuff up.  Trendy baked good.  Limited supply.  A robbery.  A silly slogan.  Their marketing department did well.  The place was known for crazy long lines, and the hype just grew and grew.  They now have a location in Los Angeles and in Seoul.

Since I love baked goods, you'd think I would have been all over this opening.  But, actually, it seemed like a lot of hype to me, and I just didn't feel like getting up at 6am to get in line for a cruffin.  So I waited, until I attended an event with Mr. Holmes baked goods.  Of course, that means I still haven't tried a cruffin, since you can't get more than 2, and they don't offer them for catering or delivery.

That said, their other items are no slouch.  Many others have made waves too, like the California croissant, stuffed with smoked salmon, ginger, wasabi, and nori.  They also have a kouign amann, a number of fascinating danishes, and even just their basic croissant has won awards.
Donuts: Chocolate & Coffee.
Most of the Mr. Holmes menu changes seasonally, like the danish fillings.  But the aforementioned cruffin changes daily, as does their donut.  They always offer two flavors of each, named Le Donut #1 and Le Donut #2.  Given how much I like donuts, I was thrilled when the event I attended had them.
Le Donut #1 (coffee). $3.50.
I started with Le Donut #1.  I was not sure what flavor it was.  I was told "pistachio" by the host, but I'm quite certain that was not right, as I didn't taste a hint of pistachio in here.  Ojan described his as "weird, I can't figure it out".  In the end, I thought it was mocha.  I followed up with the bakery the next day because I was really curious.  The answer?  Coffee.

The donut was ... ok.  Nicely coated in sugar, not too oily, stuffed very, very, very generously with the filling.  I think the part I didn't enjoy was the filling.  There was tons of it, it was very think, and kinda gritty, and I spent the whole time trying to figure out what it was.

The donut wasn't bad, but, really not worth raving about.  With a filling I liked though, I could imagine feeling differently ...
Le Donut #2 (chocolate). $3.50.
So, I took one of the other kind, and kept it "for later".

The second one was milk chocolate filled, with two little chocolate crunchy balls on top.

You can also guess about how much later, "later" really was.
Le Donut #2: Inside.
This one also was perfectly coated in sugar, and generously filled with cream.  Here you can see just how much filling was inside, they really aren't messing around with the filling.

Both Ojan and I liked this flavor much more, because the chocolate cream was smooth like a nice pudding, and not gritty like the filling in the coffee one.  I still didn't love the filling, but, sugar coated fried dough is always a good thing.

Ojan devoured his and asked me to get him another.  Yes, after eating 2 of these, he wanted another, stat!
Cookie: Chocolate, sea salt. $3.
You know I'm not really one for cookies, but, I got this for Ojan.

And as always, I took a bite.  And then, I went and got myself one.  For a cookie, this was great!

It had a generous sprinkle of large sea salt crystals on top, which really amped up the flavor.  It was still a hard, crispy cookie, so, not my favorite item, but, it was a good one.  The chocolate chunks in particular were really tasty.

It was also rather huge, a very hefty size for the $3 price.
Croissant. $3.50.
And finally, a basic croissant.  I wasn't able to try the crazy California croissant, but, this plain croissant has earned its place on many "Top 5 in San Francsico" lists.

It was a pretty decent croissant.

Crispy exterior, moist interior, very strong butter flavor, laminated.  Not mind blowing, but for a plain croissant, very solid, and on par with the best I had in Paris.

Ojan took one bite of his, and said, "hmm, this is a pretty good croissant!".  When I returned to the room a few minutes later, he further raved, "I don't normally like plain croissants, but this grew on me!"
Mr. Holmes Bakehouse Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato